Soren Kierkegaard on Biblical Scholarship

Richard Bauckham’s James (NTR; London: Routledge, 1999), p. 1, opens with some choice quotes from Soren Kierkegaard on Christian, specifically, biblical scholarship.

Christian scholarship is the human race’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the New Testament, to ensure that one can continue to be a Christian without letting the New Testament come too close.

It appears to me that on the whole the great mass of interpreters damage the understanding of the New Testament more than they benefit an understanding of it. It becomes necessary to do as one does at play, where a profusion of spectators and spotlights seek to prevent, as it were, our enjoyment of the play itself and instead treat us to little incidents – one has to overlook them, if possible, or manage to enter by a passage which is not yet blocked.

Above all, read the New Testament without a commentary … Every commentary detracts. He who can sit with ten open commentaries and read the Holy Scriptures – well, he is probably writing the eleventh, but he deals with the Scriptures contra naturam.


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